Coleus Redhead Care (Pruning, Propagation, Toxicity & More)

You recently purchased your first coleus redhead plant and are unsure of how to begin caring for it. Read on! Everything from germination to trimming and propagation is covered in this manual.

Redhead Coleus Care Featured Image

Who doesn’t want to make the attractive, bright redhead coleus plant an attractive piece in their garden?

If you bought your first coleus redhead plant or seeds and looking for a complete guide, then this is the right place you should be.

We’ll be taking a closer look at how to grow and care for the redhead coleus plant along with step-by-step instructions on pruning and propagation.

For those curious, here are the topics we’ll cover in this article.

Let’s move right in.

Redhead Coleus Plant Profile

Scientific NameSolenostemon Scutellarioides ‘Redhead’ Coleus
Common Name(s)Solenostemon Redhead
Care LevelBeginner Friendly & Easy
OriginAsia, Australia
Plant TypePerennial
USDA ZoneUSDA 4 – 10
Light RequirementsFull Sun / Partial Shade
Temperature Preferences65 – 70oF
Humidity PreferencesHigh humidity, >50%
Water RequirementsAverage
Soil PreferenceWell drained
Growth RateVery fast
PropagationSeeds & Stem Cutting
ToxicityMildly toxic

Where To Buy Redhead Coleus?

If you are looking for redhead coleus on sale, then internet retailers are the best option. There are a lot of reputable sellers on Etsy, Facebook, and Amazon marketplace who deliver both live plants and packets of seeds.

We advise getting the seeds rather than the living, rooted plants if you choose to buy redhead coleus from internet retailers. This is such that even with careful packing, coleus leaves can still easily be damaged due to transit shocks.

However, if you don’t want to germinate the seeds yourself and prefer live mature plants for instant beautification, you can search for specialized nurseries in your locality. 

Even though different varieties of coleus plants are gaining popularity these days, most general nurseries have only the basic coleus variety. Some of the rare plant nurseries in the US have coleus redhead in their database, so you may try your luck there as well.

Grow Coleus Redhead From Seed

Germonating coleus redhead seed is not very demanding when compared to some other houseplants. 

For successful seed germination, all you need is a good container or tray and a well-drained potting soil designed for coleus plants. Once you have both of them handly, follow the below steps to give life to the coleus seeds you bought.

  1. Fill the container or tray with the coleus-specific potting mixture of your preference. We recommend a tray instead of a container because a tray can hold more plants than a small container.
  2. Once the potting soil is filled, using your forefinger or a pencil, make small pits on the surface of the soil mixture. The pits should not be too deep, and the ideal pit depth is around 2 cm.
  3. Now clean the seeds using distilled water and place them inside the pits. Cover the pits with one or two cm depth of potting soil. Make sure the pit isn’t closed off because the seeds require some open space for proper aeration.
  4. Next, you need to find a spot with proper light and environmental conditions for your coleus seeds to germinate properly. You can keep it either indoors or outdoors, but we recommend you to put it indoors so that you can control the conditions easily. Refer to the coleus redhead care section for more details regarding environmental conditions.
  5. Coleus seed germination requires high humidity. So, it is recommended to cover the tray using a plastic sheet to give an impression of the greenhouse. Occasionally misting the plastic sheet increases the humidity inside.

If everything goes as per plan, the first growth can be seen after two weeks. Once the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic cover and provide bright indirect light for at least 8 to 10 hours a day.

Once the first two leaves unfurl, you can move the plant into its small container and continue to follow the care guidelines.

Coleus Redhead Care

Redhead Coleus Light Requirements

In nature redhead coleus plants are partial shade-loving plants.

A location that receives brilliant indirect light for at least 10 hours is required for bushier development in coleus redhead plants planted indoors. 

Ideal places can include a patio or a windowsill.

Installing a full spectrum LED grow light is also a brilliant idea if you can’t find a location that fits its needs. However, for proper growth the grow light should be provided for at least 12 to 16 hours a day.

Coleus Redhead Watering

Redhead Coleus plants thrive well under moderately moist soil during the spring and summer months. 

During these two seasons, we recommend you to water 3 or 4 times a week after inspecting the top two inches of soil. While watering, you should water thoroughly in such a way that the water starts to come out through drainage holes in the pots.

In the winter season, you do not have to water the plants more than 2 times a week.

With that being said, the watering requirements of your plant are entirely dependent on the external climatic conditions. So, feel free to adjust these routines based on how your redhead plant behaves. For example, in Asian countries, you might have to water every day to beat the high temperature.

Coleus Redhead Soil Mixture

Coleus Redhead prefers a soil mixture with good aeration, water holding capacity, and high organic matter, just like other coleus cultivars do.

Many houseplant owners report that redhead coleus plants can just thrive in cocopeat or peat alone. However, we advise using a mixture of coco peat or sphagnum moss, pine bark chips, perlite or vermiculite, and worm castings.

Regarding the pH level of the potting mixture, research suggests that the optimal pH range for growth is between 5.5 and 7.5.

There are a couple of coleus-specific potting mixes available online. The advantage of those mises is the added fertilizer advantage. For DIY mixes, we recommend applying balanced water soluble NPK fertilizer once a month during growing months.

Redhead Coleus Temperature

The ideal temperature for the coleus redhead plant is between 70 and 75 0F. However, recent greenhouse studies have suggested that they can tolerate slightly higher and lower temperatures for a short duration.

For coleus redhead kept outdoors, make sure that the temperature in your region does not go below 320F. Once the temperature dips below the said level, the redhead coleus plant will die.

Redhead Coleus Humidity

Based on multiple greenhouse studies, coleus plants including the redhead variety thrive when the humidity is in the range of 60 to 70%. However, they will tolerate slightly lower (up to 50%) and higher levels (up to 80%).

If the plant is kept under unfavorable humidity for a long time, it results in brown tips and edges, curled leaves, or drooping leaves on your coleus redhead plant.

Coleus Redhead Pruning

Compared to most other tropical plants, coleus redhead does not require any pruning to promote growth since they are naturally fast growers.

However, you can safely remove already dead, pest-infested, dying, discolored leaves or stem with sterilized pruning shears or scissors. 

Pruning or cutting off leaves will create open wounds which will not heal if the tools were not sterilized. Instead, the spots might become breeding grounds for bacterial or fungal diseases.

Additionally, if your redhead coleus is not looking in a good shape with leggy stems, you can cut some of the leaves and stem to shape the plant in the way you want. But, never prune more than 25% of the leaves at a time.

Redhead Coleus Propagation

Coleus redhead can be propagated by stem cuttings or seeds, just as other coleus kinds.

Seed germination is explained here.

Both of these methods are quite easy, but for beginners who have never propagated any plants, it is recommended to try seed germination instead of the stem cutting approach. It is because germinating seeds is much easier than rooting stems in the case of redhead coleus plants. 

Additionally, coleus leaves are very soft which makes them highly vulnerable to stem rot.

However, if you want to try propagating the redhead coleus using the stem cutting method, don’t worry. We will be sharing the step-by-step process below.

  1. Before even touching your plant, the first step is always getting all the required items so that you don’t have to run in between. For the stem cutting process, you need to be ready with coleus potting soil, distilled water, container/jar, sterilized shears, scissors, rooting hormone (optional), and some fungicides.
  2. Once everything is ready, using the sterilized shears cut a 5 to 6-inch stem from a mature coleus inferno plant that has at least four or five leaves. To let the stem develop new roots, make sure the cut you make is below a leaf node.
  3. Pinch off a couple of existing leaves near the leaf node where you have made your cut. But ensure that the cutting still has at least two leaves left.
  4. If you have rooting hormone, it is time to apply. It should be applied to the area where the node is located. Although it is not required, rooting hormones speed up the redhead coleus rotting process.
  5. Now, it’s time to plant the stem by cutting either the water filled in a jar or soil filled in a container depending on your preference. Propagating in water is quicker, but has a low success rate compared to soil. So, choose one method and place the cutting inside.
  6. Once the stem is planted, the next step is to provide the temperature and humidity it needs. For successful rooting, redhead coleus plants require around 70 to 80 oF temperature with 60 to 70% humidity. Adjust your conditions accordingly.

If the conditions are met, the root growth will start to happen in less than two weeks. At the end of three weeks, you might see the growth of new leaves.

Coleus Redhead Toxicity

Other than a few varieties, most of the coleus plants including redhead are completely toxic for pets like dogs and cats while mildly toxic for human beings.

The two components found in redhead coleus leaves, coleonol and coleon O are very dangerous to dogs. It is not fatal, but sorrow, diarrhea, and vomiting could happen to your pets if they eat leaves of redhead coleus.

For humans, these components are not that dangerous. But for people having decreased immunity, it might cause problems related to digestion.

Redhead Coleus Care – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Purchasing a redhead coleus plant is one thing, but growing them perfectly is altogether a different thing. It is natural to have questions and doubts along the way.

In this section, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions on various internet discussions related to redhead coleus care.

Is redhead coleus a perennial?

The redhead coleus is referenced as an upright annual or herbaceous perennial in scientific references. In the regions where the temperatures dip below 550F during winters, this plant is an annual whereas in other tropical regions it is referred to as a perennial that lives up to 3 years.

Do redhead coleus like sun or shade?

If you are growing redhead coleus plants outdoor, then they thrive in either full sun or partial shade. For indoors, they should be placed in a spot where it receives indirect bright light for most oft of the day. If the plant gets less light than what it needs, the leaves start to look dull.

How tall does redhead coleus grow?

Under perfect growing conditions, coleus redhead plants can reach up to 48 inches (120 cm) in height and 30 inches (75cm) wide. But this is when you grow them outdoors. The indoor-grown redhead coleus plants can reach somewhere between 18 to 30 inches high and around 25 inches wide. 

Can I leave redhead coleus outside in winter?

If you live in a region where snowfall and temperature dropping below 550F is very common during winters, then you must move your redhead coleus indoors. However, gardeners living in tropical and subtropical regions can leave the plant outdoors without much damage.

When do redhead coleus bloom?

In nature redhead coleus plants bloom before winter so that seeds will fall during winter and new plant growth starts in summer. But for plants that are grown indoors, there are no such seasonal bloomings. Depending on the maturity of the plant, it can bloom at any time. Another thing to note is that only coleus redhead plants grown from seeds bloom.

Wrapping Up

Just like how colorful flowers are a treat to the eyes, colorful leaves also have their charm. The bright red foliage of coleus redhead plants is going to be one of the centerpieces of attraction in your garden whether it is outdoors or indoors.

The work involved in caring for redhead coleus is not as demanding as you would have thought. You can become an expert at taking care of these plants if you read and follow the guide religiously.

Give your redhead coleus the care and attention it needs, and you’ll see it grow into a bright, gorgeous plant that will give your house the opulent look you want.


To back up the information we provide in our articles, the Plantials team only uses high-quality sources published in peer-reviewed university or scientific research journals.

  1. Effects of Growth Substrate on Redhead Coleus, Journal Of Environmental Horticulture.
  2. Container Grown Plant Production Of Redhead Coleus, SNA Research Conference.

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